Update: ‘GM Defense International’ section added.
The Hummer EV twins have taken the U.S. electric pickup truck and electric SUV market by storm, with GM accelerating production to meet the increasing customer demand. And GM Defense will reportedly produce an all-electric Humvee EV military prototype based on the consumer GMC Hummer EV, according to CNBC’s November 2021 report.
eLRV to use Ultium propulsion
The brand aims to expand its EV business by developing an electric light reconnaissance vehicle, or eLRV, based on the Hummer EV, according to GM defense Defense President Steve duMont. Moreover, the Humvee EV prototype would use the Hummer EV’s platform, including the frame, motors, and the Ultium battery, as confirmed by company officials. Expect the military-spec vehicle to look starkly different from the consumer Hummer EV that entered production at the brand’s Factory Zero in Detroit towards the end of 2021.
Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Secretary of Defense, visited GM’s technical center in Warren, Michigan, in November 2021 to hear about GM Defense’s R&D on EVs for the defense industry. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that new regulations to tackle climate change are a top priority for the Joe Biden administration, with Hicks having commented that they are “very sold” on the idea of EVs. Moreover, Hicks stated that electrifying the tactical fleet was a no-brainer.
Military may invite bids
However, it remains to be seen how green this tactical fleet would be. The fleet is likely to be charged using mobile units with generators powered by an internal combustion engine. Once GM develops the Humvee EV prototype (eLRV prototype), the military will conduct thorough tests and evaluations. The next step would be for the U.S. defense department to release detailed specifications and invite bids from multiple companies. The military will then select two companies to manufacture the eLRVs, speculated to happen by mid-decade.
GM Defense is not new to producing vehicles for the military. Its first significant military contract was earned in 2020 for the army’s new Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISVs). The ISVs were based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, and GM Defense earned a USD 214 million contract to build these internal combustion engine vehicles. Moreover, a one-off all-electric concept was also built using parts from a Chevrolet Bolt.
The original Hummer H1 was birthed after its military version served in the U.S. Army for years. The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, later known as Humvee) was developed in 1984, and its passenger vehicle iteration followed in 1992. This time, the development will be the other way around, with the Humvee EV using drivetrain components from the Hummer EV and Hummer EV SUV. The military contract will be lucrative for GM Defense—they have an estimated USD 25 billion in potential business.
Humvee EV off-road features
Expect the Humvee EV to be seriously capable off-road. Military vehicles are used in tricky conditions where off-road capability is paramount. The Humvee EV is expected to be equipped with GMC’s state-of-the-art all-wheel-steering with CrabWalk to enable enhanced maneuverability. CrabWalk makes the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction at slow speeds for diagonal movement. Moreover, the Humvee EV is also expected to have a short turning radius, similar to a mid-size SUV, to negotiate tight turns.
Powertrain wise, the Humvee EV may come with a tri-motor AWD set-up with 1000 hp or a dual-motor AWD with 830 hp, ensuring no lack of power when the going gets tough between America’s military bases at home and abroad. The electric light reconnaissance vehicle might also come equipped with an Extract Mode that raises the ride height to its maximum setting to crawl over large obstacles.
The Hummer EV Pickup gets 15.9 inches of ground clearance and suspension travel of 13 inches in the Extract Mode. It also has impressive approach (49.7 deg), departure (38.4 deg), and break-over (32.2 deg) angles, making it suitable for challenging terrain like the desert. The military could benefit from GMC’s off-road package that includes 35-inch OD Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, ‘UltraVision’ with 17 camera views, underbody armor, rock sliders, etc.
The Humvee EV could also come with ballistic glass and military-grade body armor to withstand blasts and bullets. With heavy armor, the eLRV could weigh significantly more than the Hummer EV, and hence, its chassis tuning and power output are likely to be different.
U.S. Army to be carbon neutral by 2050
The U.S. Department of Defense has been vocal about the effects of climate change and has expressed the urgency to reduce emissions. In February 2022, the army released its Climate Strategy outlining its efforts to tackle climate change consistent with its modernization initiatives. The army stated three lines of effort (LOE) where sustainable solutions will be implemented: Installations (LOE 1), Acquisition and Logistics (LOE 2), and Training (LOE 3).
The goals include reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels). The army is also targeting carbon neutrality, i.e., net-zero emissions, by 2050. According to the United States Army Climate Strategy (PDF) document, steps that will allow sustainable development include electrifying its light-duty non-tactical vehicles (NTVs) by 2027 and all non-tactical vehicles by 2035. By the end of 2020, the army removed 18,000 fuel-guzzling NTVs while increasing hybrids by 3000 units.
Thanks to this, NTV fleet costs were reduced by more than USD 50 million, while fossil fuel consumption was reduced by 13 million gallons per year. Moreover, by 2022, the army will install 470 charging stations, and the Joint Forces (Army, Air Force, and Navy) will work together to determine how to expand the charging infrastructure. The eLRVs would further help the military reduce carbon emissions.
GM Defense International
GM has announced the new GM Defense International entity under its defense division. The entity will extend GM Defense’s reach beyond American borders, offering solutions for electric and autonomous vehicles and connected technologies to America’s international allies. The newly formed entity would be a subsidiary of General Motors, and its top management would report to GM CEO Mark Reuss.
GM Defense International’s reach would be across “North America, Europe, Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region and beyond,” according to Steve DuMont, President of GM Defense. While there is no mention of the vehicle in the announcement, the new entity could help GM Defense sell the upcoming Humvee electric to international militaries to help them reduce their carbon footprint.
We’ll keep an eye on the progress of the electric Humvee and update the article when new info is available.
Featured Image Source: GMC